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On Eemaan, Ibaadah and Tawheed : Their Link and Interrelation.
  Lesson 4: An Introduction to Tawheed
Author: Abu Iyaad as-Salafi
Article ID : SCL010004  

All praise is due to Allaah, Lord of all the Worlds and Prayers and Peace upon His Final Messenger Muhammad.

To proceed:

Today’s lesson will give us an overview of Tawheed at a basic level. This will lead us to the next two lessons in which we will look in more detail at some of the branches of Tawheed.

But before we go any further, we want to stop here and just reflect a bit on exactly what we are doing - in other words we want to be clear about what the objective of these lessons are. If you refer back to Lesson 1 (on Eemaan), you will find that we introduced a small model which showed us the components of Eemaan (faith). We will reproduce here again:


What we are trying to do is to use this model as a foundation. In other words, all the lessons after this first one, will be building upon this model. So every time we go through a topic, you have to stop and think and see how it relates back to this diagram. If you recall Lesson 2 which was on Allaah’s Attributes, you should have noticed that this falls under the section ‘Speech of the Heart’ - since it is related to belief and is knowledge-based. If you now reflect on Lesson 3 (Love, Fear and Hope), you should have noticed that this falls under the section ‘Actions of the Heart’, because it is to do with the feelings and states of the heart in worshipping Allaah. In other words, all of our topics will fall into one of these categories. This shows that week by week, inshaa’allaah, we are steadily increasing our knowledge and understanding of eemaan, and also our practice of it. When we finish this whole area of eemaan, we should all have a good and solid foundation. Then we will move on to construct another model, i.e. a whole new area or subject (for example Methodology, or the Science of Hadeeth, or the Sunnah, or Bid’ah etc.).

So this is what we are trying to do inshaa’allaah. Steadily build our religion as if we were constructing a building, section by section, brick by brick, upon this foundation.

To continue with todays topic then, Tawheed.

Linguistically the word ‘Tawheed’ means ‘to make something one’.

In its Islamic usage it means ‘to testify to the uniqueness and oneness of Allaah and to make all of one’s worship for Allaah alone’.

[The word ‘wahhada’ from which the word Tawheed directly comes from has been mentioned by the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) in the hadeeth of Ibn Abbaas who explains that the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) sent Mu’aadh to Yemen and told him: "…Let the first thing you call them to be that they perform the Tawheed of Allaah, the Exalted (yuwahhidulLaaha Ta’aalaa). It is also mentioned in the hadeeth in Muslim "Islam is built upon five: the Tawheed of Allaah the Most High…."]

A side point worth mentioning here is that sometimes we look at a word in terms of what it means in the language and sometimes what it means when it used in relation to the Sharee’ah or the religion of Islaam. For example the word ‘hadeeth’ in the arabic language simply means ‘conversation, news, speech’. But islamically it means ‘a saying of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) . Why is knowing this important? It is important to understand this because we can differentiate between when a word is being used in terms of the Sharee’ah or when it is just being used as a word in the language, i.e. with its linguistic meaning. We will illustrate this with an example. You all know the saying of Umar’ when he joined all the people together behind one imaam for the taraaweeh prayer in Ramadaan. Then he commented ‘What an excellent innovation this is?’ Now, the word bid’ah linguistically means ‘something new, which has no previous example for it, an invention’. From this point of view it is not necessarily a bad thing. But when used Islamically and in reference to the Sharee’ah it means ‘ a newly invented matter, by which Allaah is sought to be worshipped and which has no previous example from the Sunnah’. So this distinction helps us to clarify that Umar said this statement by using the word ‘bid’ah’ in the linguistic sense, not the Sharee’ah sense. In other words, no one before him had thought of the idea to bring all the people together behind one imaam. His idea was a good one. So he was referring to his action from the linguistic sense. He was not referring it from the Sharee’ah sense, why? Because this action of Umar cannot be considered to be an innovation in the Sharee’ah sense anyway, because then it already has a previous example. In other words this action was done before, by the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) when he led the people in taraaweeh prayer for three days in Ramadaan. So it is not possible for Umar to be referring to his action in the Sharee’ah sense, because then the definition of ‘bid’ah’ in the Sharee’ah sense would not apply to this situation or this action of Umar. Why? Because this action already has a previous example and model, from the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) , whereas the Sharee’ah definition of bid’ah states that it is ‘something which has no previous model or example…’.

Anyway going back to the topic again.

We have just looked at the Sharee’ah definition of Tawheed - ‘testifying to the oneness of Allaah and worshipping Him alone’.

In order to do this - i.e.

  • To testify to the oneness of Allaah and,

  • To worship Allaah alone

We have to look at our Tawheed from:

  • the knowledge aspect and

  • the actions aspect.

In other words, Tawheed can be looked at from two angles, or it can be seen to have two branches. We have already discussed in Lesson 1, Ibn al-Qayyim’s classification of Tawheed. Lets go back to it again.


So one type of Tawheed is concerned with Knowledge and the other type of Tawheed is concerned with Action. We also mentioned in Lesson 1, how there is no contradiction between what Ibn al-Qayyim says (i.e. he divides Tawheed into two categories) and between what the rest of the Salaf say i.e. that Tawheed is of three branches:

  1. Tawheed ur-Ruboobiyyah

  2. Tawheed ul-Asmaa was-Sifaat

  3. Tawheed ul-Uloohiyyah

This is because two of the above categories (No’s 1 and 2) are in fact related to knowledge the third one is related to action. Lets reproduce the diagram again - including this:

 So it is clear that there is no contradiction, because in essence it is the same categorisation.

Now we will give a brief description of precisely what each one means:

Tawheed ur-Ruboobiyyah: This is to have the knowledge and firm belief that Allaah alone is the ‘Rabb’ of all the worlds. This means that He alone is the Creator, that He brought everything into existence alone, and that He sustains and controls the whole of creation - which includes such things like, giving life, taking life, sending down the rain, making the sun rise and set, etc. In fact everything related to the working of the whole of creation, then that is under the sole control of Allaah, He owns of everything and He alone created it.He is responsible for everything that happens. You can see how some of Allaah’s names are linked to his Ruboobiyyah eg. Khaaliq (the Creator), ar-Razzaaq (the Sustainer), an-Naafi’ (the One who causes benefit) ad-Daarr (the One who causes Harm), ash-Shaafee (the Healer), al-Muhyee (the One who gives life), al-Mumeet (the One who causes death) etc…

Tawheed ul-Asmaa was-Sifaat: This is to have the knowledge of Allaah’s Names and Attributes. To have belief and conviction in what He has described Himself with and the Names Has has mentioned in His Book and upon the tongue of His Messenger in the Sunnah. We have to believe them in the right way, as we have been commanded, as did the Companions of Allaah’s Messenger. We have already covered the topic of Allaah’s Attributes in Lesson 2 and we covered how to believe in His Attributes in such a way so that it does not nullify the Tawheed of Allaah. In a future lesson (Lesson 5) we will look at the Names of Allaah and discuss the principles behind understanding them aswell.

So the above two categories are related to knowledge.

Tawheed ul-Uloohiyyah: This is to worship Allaah alone in ones inward and outward actions. Allaah has informed us of all the actions that He loves and is pleased whether they are inward actions (i.e. of the heart) or whether they are outward actions (i.e. of the tongue and limbs). So this aspect of Tawheed is to do with knowing and acting upon everything that Allaah has commanded and refraining from everything that He has forbidden. Allaah has also explained everything that constitues Shirk (such as fortune-telling, wearing talismans etc..) so a part of perfecting this aspect of Tawheed, is knowing what actions constitute Tawheed and what actions constitute Shirk. And we shall look at this in Lesson 6 inshaa’allaah.


We will now discuss a number of points related to this topic.

1. Where did this categorisation come from:

Some one might ask - where did this categorisation come from? Isn’t this an innovation. Because the companions never explained this?

The answer to this is that this categorisation is not an innovation at all. And by looking at Tawheed at this way it does not mean we have innovating anything new. And also we are not claiming that looking at Tawheed in this way is an act of worship. (which is the definition of Bid’ah - i.e. inventing something new and seeking to worship Allaah by it). And even if we did not have these terms then the Qur’aan explains these principles anyway.

In other words, Allaah has mentioned what we mean by Tawheed ur-Ruboobiyyah, Tawheed ul-Asmaa was-Sifaat and Tawheed ul-Uloohiyyah in the Qur’aan already.

  • There are many verses where Allaah mentions that He is the Rabb of all the Worlds and other verses related to this where He says He created the heavens and the earth, that He is in control of everything etc. All of these indicate His Ruboobiyyah

  • There are verses in which Allaah says there is nothing like Him (see Lesson 2) - i.e. the underlying principle in Tawheed ul-Asmaa was-Sifaat, and verses in which He mentions His Names and Attributes etc.. So all of these indicate His Names and Attributes AND the way we are supposed to believe in them.

  • There are verses in which Allaah asks the creation to worship Him alone and not to worship another god along with Him whether that might be in ones inward actions, or outward actions. So all of these such verses indicate His Uloohiyyah

So the basis of all of this is in the Qur’aan anyway. Nothing new has been innovated. To illustrate this : Go back to Lesson 2 and remember how we said that we have to believe in Allaah’s Attributes without resembling them to the creation in other words we must not do ‘Tashbeeh’. Someone might say, but this word Tashbeeh, the Companions never used it so where did you get it from? The issue is that the principle is in the Qur’an, it doesn’t matter what we call it. Allaah said: "There is nothing like Him’ [42:11]. So this tells us that we cannot do ‘tashbeeh’ i.e. resemble His Attributes to those of the creation. So the meaning is already in this verse, all we have done is to identify this principle and give it a label to make it easier to understand. We have not invented or imposed any new concept or meaning upon the Qur'aan.

It is similar with the branches of Tawheed. They are all contained in the verses of the Qur’aan and even though the names of these categories are not mentioned, the principles, concepts and meanings behind them have, all we have done is to identify them. In this is an uncovering of the enemies of Tawheed, those who claim that the Salafis have resembled the Christians in inventing a ‘trinity’, a ‘triune Tawheed’ as they say. Such idiotic fools, having no knowledge, sense or guidance, only earn the wrath of Allaah in their constant struggle and fight against the adherents of Tawheed. So you should not be mislead by the rantings and ravings of the lunatics, foremost amongst them the hallucinogenic Soofees.

 2. The Excellence of Tawheed and its Cleansing of Sins (And Correct Tawheed with Many Sins is Better than Shirk and Innovation with Much Worship.)

The verse:

It is those who believe (in the Oneness of Allâh and worship none but Him Alone) and confuse not their belief with Zulm (wrong i.e. by worshipping others besides Allâh), for them (only) there is security and they are the guided. [6:82]

In other words, only those will are saved and guided who keep their Tawheed pure and free from Shirk

The hadeeth:

"Allah will not permit to be consigned to Hell anyone who witnesses 'There is no god but Allah,' seeking thereby nothing but Allah's face." [Bukharee/Muslim]

That is testifying to the oneness and uniqueness of Allaah (from the point of view of knowledge, i.e. Tawheed ur-Ruboobiyyah and Asmaa was-Sifaat) and worshipping Him alone (Tawheed ul-Uloohiyyah) and this is the meaning of ‘thereby seeking nothing but Allaah’s Face’ - i.e. doing actions for Him alone, without associating any partners with Him - and this is what Tawheed ul-Uloohiyyah requires.

3. Understanding the Calls of the Groups of Innovation (may Allaah rid the earth of them).

A second related point is that we can now look at some of the methodologies of some groups and see how they are not calling to Tawheed at all. Before we do this lets establish a fact. And that is that ALL the Messenger’s called to Tawheed ul-Uloohiyyah, NOT to Tawheed ur-Ruboobiyyah. This is because their respective peoples already accepted this anyway. Look carefully and slowly at the following verses:

And if you (O Muhammad SAW) ask them: "Who has created the heavens and the earth," they will certainly say: "Allâh." Say: "All the praises and thanks be to Allâh!" But most of them know not. [31:25]

Say: "Who is (the) Lord of the seven heavens, and (the) Lord of the Great Throne?" They will say: "Allâh." [23:86-87]

Say (O MuhammadSAW ): "Who provides for you from the sky and from the earth? Or who owns hearing and sight? And who brings out the living from the dead and brings out the dead from the living? And who disposes the affairs?" They will say: "Allâh." Say: "Will you not then be afraid of Allâh's Punishment (for setting up rivals in worship with Allâh)?" [10:31]

And indeed if you ask them, "Who has created the heavens and the earth?" They will surely say: "The All-Mighty (al-Azeez), the All-Knower (al-Aleem) created them." [43:9]

Can you see how the pagans accepted Allaah’s Ruboobiyyah already. They accepted He was the creator, that He created the seven heavens and the earth - also that He has a Throne! And even some of His Names! Such as Al-Azeez and al-Aleem! So the pagans accepted this. This wasn’t the dispute between them. Rather what the Messenger’s called to and what the pagans rejected was Tawheed ul-Uloohiyyah. In other words, that they should make all their worship for Allaah alone,both inward feelings and outwards actions. But the pagans rejected this. Look carefully and slowly at the following verses:

And verily, We have sent among every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): "Worship Allâh (Alone), and avoid (or keep away from) Tâghût[] (all false deities, etc. i.e. do not worship Tâghût besides Allâh)." Then of them were some whom Allâh guided and of them were some upon whom the straying was justified. So travel through the land and see what was the end of those who denied (the truth). [16:36]

And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad SAW) but We inspired him (saying): Lâ ilâha illa Ana [none has the right to be worshipped but I (Allâh)], so worship Me (Alone and none else)." [21:25]

And indeed We sent Nûh (Noah) to his people (and he said): "I have come to you as a plain warner." "That you worship none but Allâh, surely, I fear for you the torment of a painful Day." [11:25-26]

And to 'Ad (people We sent) their brother Hûd. He said, "O my people! Worship Allâh! You have no other Ilâh (God) but Him. [11:50]

And to Thamûd (people, We sent) their brother Sâlih (Saleh). He said: "O my people! Worship Allâh, you have no other Ilâh (God) but Him. He brought you forth from the earth and settled you therein, then ask forgiveness of Him and turn to Him in repentance. Certainly, my Lord is Near (to all by His Knowledge), Responsive." [11:61]

** And to the Madyan (Midian) people (We sent) their brother Shu'aib. He said: "O my people! Worship Allâh, you have no other Ilâh (God) but Him, and give not short measure or weight, I see you in prosperity; and verily I fear for you the torment of a Day encompassing. [11:84]

So see how the call of the Messenger’s was to the worship of Allaah alone, i.e. Tawheed ul-Uloohiyyah. [Even Shu’aib, he called to Tawheed first, THEN he forbade them from the evil they were doing. In other words, calling to Tawheed first, comes before ALL the other actions]

So now we have established this fact, we can see how the calls of certain groups are in error. For example, Jamaa’at ut-Tableegh have shared with the pagans, the mushriks in their understanding of Tawheed and they have not shared with the call of the Noble Messengers. This is because their call is to Tawheed ur-Ruboobiyyah and not to Tawheed ul-Uloohiyyah. This is why amongst them you will find a man who has travelled across the world in 40 years and he is still ignorant of the fact that he is committing Shirk by wearing talismans and going to the graves of the dead and other such acts. That they call to Tawheed ur-Ruboobiyyah is clearly stated in their books and more specifically in the book of their founder Muhammad Ilyaas in what is known as the Six Pillars. So if you look at this book you find that Tawheed to him is just Ruboobiyyah!! High is Allaah from that. So this Jamaa’ah has no concern whatsoever with Tawheed.

Someone might say: ‘But I know people who are with Jamaa’at ut-Tableegh and they do not commit shirk and they don’t do these things, and they know what Tawheed is.’ This is only a doubt and it can be cleared in the following way. The question to be asked is: ‘Is it because of the da’wah of JT that such people do not do these actions or is it because of some other reason i.e. their family background etc.. or that someone who is upon the Sunnah, actually told them and warned them about these things, or what?’ You will never find that they avoid these acts BECAUSE JT told them so, and that it is part of the call of JT to warn people of these things. It is not for this reason. We will give you one example of the JT’s when they came to this mosque. One of the bro’s with them said that he knows that Allaah is above the Heavens and not here upon the earth. So one of the brothers asked him, but where did you learn that from? Did JT teach you that or what? And he explained how someone outside of JT, told him that and so he believed it. Also another example. A brother met a TJ and he started boasting about how educated he was and how much he has travelled the world. But upon his wrist was a talisman. So one of the brothers (a Chinese Muslim) asked him ‘what is that?’ He said, ‘My wife gave it to me, it helps to cure my wrist’. So the brother said to him ‘If I showed you that Allaah and His Messenger forbade this, would you take it off?’ The brother said ‘Yes’. So when the brother showed him, he would not take it off and said ‘I will do it tomorrow, or. Anyway the brother wripped it off his wrist and destroyed it. Then the brother said to him, ‘Here take this book and read it’ (he gave him a book on Tawheed), so the brother replied: ‘If you come with me for 3 days I will read it’, so the brother said, ‘I will spend 3 days working for the sake of Allaah in my own time inshaa’allaah you just take and read this book’. Sothe brother took the book in his hand but when he left, he left the book behind on the shelf and did not bother with it, fleeing away from the knowledge and guidance (and this is because it is also part of this deviated group to make its followers flee and run away from knowledge as if it were a hungry lion, chasing them.)

So these are just two illustrations of millions across the world of how a person spends a lifetime with a group or party and does not learn anything. And if he or she does, it is not from JT, but from someone outside of it. This is because the call and methodology of the group is not to Tawheed, and nor is it concerned with learning the knowledge either.

In a similar fashion you find Ikhwaan ul-Muslimeen, whose call is not to Tawheed ul-Uloohiyyah but to something else, Takfeer, Revolting, Sufism, Modernism and a mixture other rubbish. They have made these things their starting points in their call. Similarly with all the groups of innovation and misguidance. Their starting point is wrong, so what follows in their methodology is also incorrect.

4. The Three Categories of Tawheed in One Verse:

We have already explained above how many verses of the the Qur’an, put together, mention all the categories of Tawheed, not by name, but by principle, concept and meaning.

'Allaamah as-Safaareenee (died 1112H) - may Allaah's mercy be upon him - said: "Know that Tawheed has three divisions: Tawheed ur-Ruboobiyyah (the Oneness of God in His Lordship), Tawheed al- Uloohiyyah (to single-out Almighty God alone for worship) and Tawheed al-Asmaa was-Sifaat (the uniqueness of God's Names and Attributes)."

Shaikh Ibn Uthaimeen said: "And Allaah has gathered these three divisions in His - the Most High's- saying:

"Lord of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them, (i.e Ruboobiyyah)

So worship Him alone and be constant and patient in His worship (i.e Uloohiyyah)

Do you know of any who is similar to Him? (i.e. Asmaa was-Sifaat) " [19:65]"


We have looked at Tawheed and its categorisations. This helps us to understand Tawheed more fully. In the next lesson (Lesson 5) we will look at, ‘How to Understand the Names of Allaah’. In other words we are filling in this gap in the ‘speech aspect of the heart’. We have already looked at the ‘Attributes of Allaah’ so looking at the Names will complete the area of Tawheed ul-Asmaa was-Sifaat. The lesson after that (Lesson 6) that we will look at ‘Tawheed ul-Uloohiyyah’. In other words we will be filling in the gap in the ‘actions aspect of the heart’. Then after that, we will have a break for a week in which we will not cover anything new, but just revise the previous three lessons (4, 5 and 6).


  1. How is our discussion of Tawheed related to Eemaan?

  2. Mention the two divisions of Tawheed according to Ibn al-Qayyim and explain each one?

  3. Give the three categories of Tawheed as commonly understood by the Salaf and explain what each one is about?

  4. Give some examples of how these categorisations are actually mentioned in the Qur’an.

  5. Why is this categorisation NOT an innovation?

  6. What did the pagans of Makkah already accept and affirm with respect to Allaah’s Tawheed? Quote three verses along with references to prove this.

  7. Give an example of when a word can be used in the linguistic sense and in the Sharee’ah sense and how they can have different meanings and applications.

  8. Quote three verses along with their references that explain the call of the Messengers and explain precisely what this call was to.

  9. Give some examples of groups whose call is NOT to Tawheed ul-Uloohiyyah.

  10. Quote a verse, with its reference which contains a description of all three categories of Tawheed.

1st December 1997

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